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tv   Nightline  ABC  November 7, 2013 12:35am-1:06am PST

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♪ ♪ ♪ sorry for the way i hurt you would it make you wanna stay i'm sorry for ♪ ♪ the way i hurt you and making you walk away i shoulda took the time to tell you ♪ ♪ and if i wrote you a love song and sang it to you everyday would it ever be enough to ♪ ♪ make you wanna come back home and stay i can't go another day without you ♪ ♪ would it make you make you wanna stay girl you gotta know i love you ♪ ♪ my heart's on my sleeve but it's turning black i guess i know what it feels like to be alone ♪ ♪ without your touch
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i'm not gonna last i know you know that i need you just to carry on ♪ ♪ it feels like my walls are caving in you always wanted it more i left you hangin' on ♪ ♪ and i'll do anything to have you here again but if i told you i loved you ♪ ♪ would it make you wanna stay i'm sorry for the way i hurt you and making you walk away ♪ ♪ i shoulda took the time to tell you and if i wrote you a love song and sang ♪ ♪ it to you every day would it ever be enough to make you wanna come back home and stay ♪ ♪ i can't go anheday without you yeah the days are cold
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♪ would it make you make you wanna stay girl you gotta know i love you would it make you ♪ ♪ make you wanna stay i can't go another day without you would it make you ♪ that bikini top on her ♪ make you make you wanna stay
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tonight on "nightline" -- it is the ultimate hoax. deception like no other. >> sort of like emotional
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terrorism. >> preying on emotions. stealing identities online. >> she put this little girl on the phone and said this is claire. >> i just wanted to say thank you for letting me love you. >> this game of pretend fooled everyone including one of country music's most beloved couples. >> there is no way that's not real. >> "nightline" is on the trail of a con. >> we confirmed a dozen people. there are a dozen more that were working to confirm still. >> tracking e-mails, photos and phone calls about to blow this prank wide open. >> you're hope jackson, huh, i'm
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good evening, i'm dan abrahams. thank you for joining us. you are familiar with the term
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catfishing, people adopting false identities to gain trust, love and money. tonight a year-long "nightline" investigation follows a trail of deceit. often celebrities including m e music award brad paisley and his wife. for a chance to help, seemed like a beautiful gift. until it all turned out to be an ugly lie. here's abc's david wright. >> wow, i want to be him. >> reporter: you cut write a country song about online relationships. in fact, brad paisley did. ♪ ♪ his number one single online. in the music video, george castanza, jason alexander plays a nerd who passes himself on line as ultracool paisley.
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♪ online in hollywood, i'm 6'5" ♪ ♪ ♪ it is the idea of the fantasy world that the internet has become. >> reporter: you have experienced the dark side of that. >> yeah, the dark side has been there. >> reporter: brad and his wife, kimberly williams-paisley had no idea how dark it could get until they were sucked into a cruel, elaborate hoax, a hoax that left kim paralyzed with fear. >> i felt so violated. and scared. >> reporter: brad demanding justice. >> sort of like emotional terrorism. >> reporter: it started with an e-mail sent by a tee te-mail se a stranger, this one stood out, a mother with her daughter's dying wish. >> 8 years old, had cancer, had seen a movie called "the christmas shoes" and said her daughter had found great hope and inspiration from this movie.
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>> always know that i am going to be here. >> she said her daughter begged her to get in touch with me. it sounded very sort of real. i read that. i thought, i would love to just talk to her. say hi. >> reporter: talk they did. by phone, e-mail and text. i heard this rustling. she put this little girl on the phone. said this is claire. >> i just wanted to say thank you for letting me love you. and thank you for being my miracle. >> i remember this, this instinct in me, thinking what if this is a hoax? but it was so quickly trumped by an overwhelming feeling, what if it is not a hoax. and i have a chance to help this little girl. >> reporter: the paisleys were in good company. a lot of people thought it was real. for the past year, "nightline" has been piecing together evidence from other celeb ri team ri -- celebrities. >> e-mail to the patz yslies.
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here is another one written to, gospel singer, carmen hope thomas. it is the same thing written to, natalie grant, singer. >> reporter: the producer is still finding victims. >> we confirmed at least a dozen people. there are at least a dozen more working to confirm still. >> reporter: who is in your collection? >> john henson, host of wipeout. band, little big town. kate goeslin. >> in loving memory of hope. kate goeslin, we told her it was a hoax. rip s >> reporter: she learned from us? >> when i received your e-mail. i yelled out loud. oh, my gosh. >> reporter: at this point the paisleys were hooked. it was plausible? >> totally plausible to me. they weren't saying can you send money. they weren't saying can you come visit. they were saying we just, i want to talk to you. >> reporter: and then -- it
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started to get weird. ♪ jesus loves me this i know >> reporter: supposedly at death's door the little girl sang this song for kim. and brad got on the phone. and sang to her. amazing grace. >> your's singing to some one's dying kid. there is no way that is not real. how can that not be real. >> reporter: right when they're hooked the hammer drops. they get the call they're dreth. little claire its dead. >> the call came. very to the point. she said she is gone. >> a parent's worst nightmare. >> my wife started bawling. >> she lit my softest spot. as a mother. wanting my kids to be okay. >> hi, it is just carrey. >> reporter: the calls continued. got more outlandish. >> i also wanted to know if there is a version of your husband singing amazing grace, that i could use that for the
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service. >> reporter: check out the message. detailing plans for the funeral. oh, it was okay to put your picture in the casket, like she reap quested. hope you have a good weekend. and thank you for everything. bye-bye. >> reporter: almost immediately the story started to unravel. >> i said where can i send flowers for the funeral. >> reporter: she don't have an address? >> don't. send a donation to your local children's hospital. i had like a physical reaction. every red flag went up. i remember just looking at people, around me, who is it? how many people were involved in this scam? and, and are they, are they right here? are they watching me right now? >> you were worried they might be a threat to you? >> yes, this person was crazy. >> i watched my wife buckle when she realized thisn wasn't a rea girl. >> i vowed i will find her. i will make sure this person is not able to do this.
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or isn't capable of doing worse. >> reporter: this deception was bigger than the paisleys imagined. as "nightline" dug deeper it became clear the hoaxer wasn't just stalking celebrities she was stalking cancer victims stealing photos and stories. we want to meet one family, the thomases of ohio. their daughter christie died in 2006 of guess what, neuroblastoma. scammers stole her image off the thomas family's memorial website. >> i had one of the detectives tell me, a while ago the was almost like, she knew my story, better than i knew my story. she had red my journal entry so many times it was like she internalized it. she would be calling famous people it was like she convinced herself she really was me. >> that is the sickest part about this. that is the part when i start to talk about that. that's when i get really mad. that there were real kids.
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that there were real photos. >> reporter: ironically the photos helped unravel the mystery. you pulled the data off some of these pictures. these journal entries were in some ways her undoing. she created them. didn't lift them. >> reporter: buried in digital images location data from the camera they were taken on. >> when you enter it in google maps it shows a location in mongolia. >> reporter: dead end at first. >> simply mongolia is on the opposite side of the world. if you enter a negative sign here, you get the actual address. 206 walnut street. >> wow. in douglas, wyoming, hometown of jackalope, a mythical creature to fool city shrekkers. fitting location for a hideout. we found her at a k 08 campground.
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finally after eight months of searching for the woman responsible for toying with so many people's emotions. we are face to face with her. hope jackson. 37-year-old mother of two perfectly healthy kids. you never god forbid had the experience of losing a child? >> no. no. i hope i never do, yeah. >> reporter: you don't think it was incredibly bad karma? >> yes, yes. yeah. >> well, now looking back on it, of course. yeah. >> reporter: we spent a whole day with her. she was contrite. >> i am 100% responsible for this. i have to live with that every day of my life. >> philosophical. i hope it brings healing not only for the people it hurt but me. >> reporter: showed flashes of anger. >> all i can do is a poll japol. >> broke down in tears again and
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again. >> horrible. shameful. i hurt. wrong. >> reporter: we confronted her with an e-mail she wrote angela thomas. promising to stop using christie's picture. >> i hope to learn to become a better person, mother. i don't expect forgiveness. how sorry i am. i will not use your photos ever again. or any one else's. thank you for your time. >> reporter: you sent that? >> uh-huh. >> reporter: it was after you sent that that you first contacted kim and brad? >> right. >> reporter: after saying to this woman. i will not be using your photos ever again. >> and i never, i didn't use her photos ever again. >> reporter: or anyone else's. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: if you lied to her, why should we believe you snow. >> i'm not asking you to believe me. because like i said it is my actions are going to speak louder than my word are. >> reporter: she insists for her it was never about gift or money. >> i never asked for anything
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from them. >> reporter: does it matter she doesn't ask for money? >> yeah, i think that's secce s. i would have welcomed the thought this was something as simple as a woman, scamming you. then it's look okay. at least money is involved. when sthep whe was all along ca not to do that, you realize she is just, enjoying this. >> reporter: it may be morally wring to fool someone on line, but not necessarily illegal. >> she hadn't typically commit aid crime because she didn't ask for money. and she, that shows you what a pro she was. >> reporter: turned out hope jackson made one little mistake that finally caught up with her. >> let's figure out which laws she broke. she has to have broken something. >> reporter: what was her mistake? what were the consequences? when we come back.
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douglas, wyoming, hometown of the jackalope, a jack rabbit with antlers. in reality there is no such thing. this quiet western town is home to a fictitious creature, an internet hoaxer, pedaling a phony sob story about an 8-year-old daughter dying from cancer. she fooled brad, and kim paisley and celebrities. hope jackson had gotten away with it for years.
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>> it wasn't lickke i want to ht people. it's hard to believe but true. >> may have kept going. if not for an intervention. >> that's kevin lovewell, the law man who tracked her done to a specific addressen douglas. right where the gps markers on the digital images said she would be. >> hotel le bobby. >> this is where she was staying? >> tracked her to here? >> tracked to her here. upstairs in room 205. when he confronted she didn't deny it. >> easiest confession i probably ever got. >> this is an audio tape of one of her first interviews with police. >> i had no idea he was going to follow me. i never asked. >> though it is fraud. it can be ditch cult to prosecute fom one for
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misrepresenting themselves on line. in hope jackson any case she made one crucial mistake. she did take something of monetary value. brad pays low's sonpaisley's so. amazing grace. the performance has value. because the it was brad paisley singing amazing grace, turns out it was worth a lot. >> $5,000 or more the a felony. >> pled guilty to theft of service and served jail time. >> al capone caught on tax evasion. >> reporter: now she is out on probati probation. i am horribly sorry for all of the people that i hurt. hope jackson told us for her money was never the object. >> what did you get out of it. >> just that moment of being special. and that's all it was. >> a voice on the otherened en
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the phone. >> at that moment you feel like nothing else matters. >> it does seem like depression is a big part of her life. >> reporter: we asked psychiatrist dr. mark feldman to watch her enterview. hope jackson is not his patient. but he has seen this type of behavior many times before. in fact he was the first to die diagnosis, munchausen by internet. >> what are symptoms? >> refers to any bed who goes on line, feigns or xaj rated some kind of medical or psychological illness because they're after sympathy. >> reporter: to hear hope jackson describe it she couldn't help herself. >> it's look being a drug addict, you know what i'm saying. most people don't want to be a drug addict. most know it is wrong and the minute they do it it is like the whole world is okay at that exact moment. >> reporter: one question for dr. feldman did the internet
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enable that addiction. >> my sense, the internet made this behavior explode. >> you can be anybody on line. >> yes. the anonymity is seductive. yet the intimacy is equally seductive. >> he knows more than 100 cases. thinks that is just the tip of the iceberg. >> have you stopped? >> yeah, 100%. >> reporter: the paisleys give her the benefit of the doubt. >> i hope people around her will encourage her to get help. >> i root for her to be a case study that never does it again. >> reporter: they feel the law need to be changed. let's work on that as so sigh tee. to use some one's child photo. for something they're not allowing you to use it for. >> angela thomas whose real daughter's picture was stolen, says she is worried could make people people like the pays lows being compassionate. >> the next little girl oh, hope
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they haven't had hair hearts hardened. >> the paisleys insist that is not going to happen. the next time they will bear in mind, brad's slightly jaded hit song. ♪ so much cooler online i'm any dach it wrig-- i'm davi "nightline." >> fascinating and scary story. thank you to david wright and the rest of the team for the report. >> next, imagine rock royalty coming together to stand up for military veterans. well tonight they did. ♪ ♪ ♪ i hope some day you'll joan us ♪ and more than your favorite scent infused into the cabin. it is a completely new era of innovation. and the highest expression of mercedes-benz. introducing the 2014 s-class.
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